Le’Veon Bell had until 4 p.m. ET on Nov. 13 to report to Steelers if he was going to play this season. That’s not going to happen. He will not show up to the team’s facility before that deadline. Bell has now become the first player since Chiefs defensive tackle Dan Williams in 1998 to hold out for an entire season because of the franchise tag.Bell could have earned $14.5 million if he had played all season under the tag for a second straight season. However Matt Ryan Jersey Limited , he held out to protest his inability to come to terms on a market-resetting, long-term contract with the Steelers, as well as minimize the risk of suffering a major injury that could diminish or even destroy his value as a prospective free agent. Bell held out last year after he was franchise-tagged, but he returned to the Steelers right before the regular season began. While early reports suggested he’d return to the only franchise he’s ever known by the time the regular season rolled around, his holdout pushed through the first half of 2018 and will now last the whole year. The move upset fans and teammates — but Earl Thomas’ broken leg served as a stark reminder of how fickle the football gods can be. What’s next for Le’Veon Bell?Bell won’t play in 2018, but his decision to hold out will likely free him from Pittsburgh’s grasp in the offseason. There are a couple different ways his offseason could go:Free agencyThe Steelers could decide to wash their hands of Bell and let him walk. He’s set to become a free agent this offseason, as long as the Steelers don’t try to tag him again. The franchise tagThis one is highly unlikely. Under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, retaining the tailback’s rights under the franchise tag next spring would cost the Steelers the average of the league’s five highest annual salaries for ‘19 — somewhere in the market of $25-26 million.The transition tagThe Steelers won’t pay Bell quarterback-type money, so it’s much more likely that if Pittsburgh makes an effort to retain Bell, or at least retain his rights in order to trade him, it’ll do so via the transition tag. That tag would cost the same as what the franchise was suppose to this year ($14.5 million), but it would also allow Bell to field contract offers from other teams. While the Steelers would have the right to match the terms of any deal he agreed to, but they’d have to either match it in its entirety or allow him to leave. That makes it especially likely he’ll return to the field wearing another team’s colors in 2019. Will Bell still command the money he’s looking for?But two questions remain:a) whether he’ll receive the mega-deal with big money guarantees the Steelers failed to offer, andb) if he’ll be the same player after sitting out a season.It’s tough to tell what impact a holdout will have on Bell’s value as a player, but just getting out of Pittsburgh would do wonders for his guaranteed money even if he doesn’t get the $17 million annual salary he desires. The Steelers have been reticent to offer large downside guarantees with their big contracts; the guaranteed money for players like Cameron Heyward, Antonio Brown, and Stephon Tuitt only covers about 20-25 percent of the total value of their deals.Meanwhile, Todd Gurley’s deal with the Rams offers him $45 million in guarantees on a $57.5m extension. Jerick McKinnon’s contract in San Francisco locks him in for $18 million on a $30m deal. Bell may wind up settling for less than he wanted in overall value once he hits the free agent market, but he’ll get significantly more in guarantees than the Steelers had set aside.While sitting out a full season raises questions about his level of play, Bell will return to the league in 2019 refreshed and injury free. He’ll also only be 27 years old next season. He should be able to return to form; Marshawn Lynch’s performance with a disheveled Raiders team at age 31 and 32 after a brief retirement serves as proof of this.Bell was a first-team All-Pro in 2017, but he was also relatively inefficient as a runner. His 4.0 yards per carry was nearly a full yard less than his 2016 average. And while he made a career-high 85 catches he only turned those opportunities into 655 yards and a pair of touchdowns.Still http://www.atlantafalconsteamonline.com/matt-ryan-jersey , even a diminished Bell is a unique threat. He sprang for 1,946 yards from scrimmage in 15 games last fall, even after a slow start that may have been related to the holdout that kept him out of practice during the preseason. While James Conner’s rise has made that performance look a little less special, whoever gets Bell in 2019 is getting an upper-tier tailback in the deal.What does this mean for the Steelers?Pittsburgh struggled to start the 2018 season, but has rebounded to turn a 1-2-1 beginning into a spot atop the AFC North by Halloween. Getting Bell back could have been found money, and his extra gear could be enough to paper over the team’s flaws elsewhere. While many of the Steelers’ biggest problems come on the defensive side of the ball, adding another playmaker could be the difference between a good offense and a great one.But it may not matter, because the Steelers are currently rolling. Bell’s replacement, James Conner, has done his part to make the club forget about its veteran All-Pro. The second-year running back broke onto the scene with a 135-yard, two-touchdown performance in a Week 1 tie against the Browns, then languished with 97 yards on 37 carries his next three games. That helped support Bell’s case as an elite rushing talent — until it didn’t.Conner rebounded in a major way, rushing for 539 yards and seven touchdowns in his next five games, all Steeler wins. He currently ranks third in the NFL with 777 rushing yards at an efficient 4.7 yards per carry. He’s also made 39 receptions for 387 yards — a 9.9 yard-per-catch average that exceeds all but one of Bell’s single-season marks.This is all to say that Conner certainly looks like a star NFL running back, albeit over a small sample size. And while that doesn’t make Bell obsolete, it’s certainly lessened the impact of his missed games.Now he’ll get the opportunity to prove he can be a true lead back over the course of a full season without having to look over his shoulder to see if Bell’s in his rear view or not. He’s just a few games into his Duke career, but Zion Williamson is already creating an epic legacy with some spectacular dunks. I mean, just look at this ridiculous alley-oop he threw down against Eastern Michigan. I’ve watched this more than 20 times already, and it continues to blow my mind. And this. And even though you didn’t ask for it, here’s one more just for good measure. There’s obviously a lot of Duke haters out there, but how can you not love Zion? Is he even human? Our own Ricky O’Donnell declared Zion the best dunker of his generation. Early into his college career Calvin Ridley Jersey Limited , the evidence is fairly convincing. So if you’ve accepted the inevitable reality that Duke will be must watch TV this season and you’re ready to jump on the Zion train, we’re here to help get you started with Zion merch. The Iron Lion T-shirtIt’s inspired by Zion (and Bob Marley, of course). Iron Lion Durham T-shirt for $26 BreakingTThe Zion cock-back slam dunk T-shirt and hoodieA Zion special. Do we need to show you his dunk against Eastern Michigan again? His head literally goes above (!) the rim.Zion Williamson Slam Dunk T-shirt for $22.46RedBubbleZion Williamson Pullover Hoodie for $51.19RedBubbleThe Legend of ZionIt started with his crazy high school mixtapes, grew with his huge Instagram following, and is now coming to the mainstream as he continuously destroys rims and makes defenders look helpless at Duke.The Legend of Zion T-shirt for $23.21RedBubbleThe Legend of Zion Hoodie for $54.85RedBubbleThe Fabbest FiveWith highly-touted freshmen Tre Jones, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, Joey Baker, and Zion joining forces at Duke, Sports Illustrated made a bold declaration about the group leading up to the season. Michigan fans probably aren’t fond of the nickname, but so far the Duke “Fabbest Five” has lived up to the hype, and then some. The Fabbest Five T-shirt for $26BreakingTThrough three games, Zion is putting up huge numbers. The Duke freshman is averaging 25.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, and three blocks per game. As the season progresses, we’ll keep our eyes on more Zion-related apparel as it drops. Looking for more product reviews, shopping guides, and good deals on sports merchandise and apparel? Check out our Buy Stuff section.
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